Although the majority of the more than 800,000 convicted sex offenders in the U.S. comply with sex offender registration requirements, some of these individuals are attempting to evade law enforcement and hide their identities by fleeing to other states.
Megan’s Law in New Jersey and Elsewhere
Megan’s Law was passed in 1994 in memory of Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old girl from Hamilton Township, NJ who was murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender. Since there were no existing laws at the time that would have required Kanka’s murderer to identify himself to the public as a sex offender, Kanka’s parents had no idea of the threat that loomed near their Mercer County NJ residence.
In the aftermath of young Megan’s tragic death, state legislatures across the country pushed for sex offender registration laws. Eventually, the federal government followed suit and enacted a law that made it illegal for a registered sex offender to move from one state to another without contacting law enforcement and informing authorities of the change in residence.
Do Sex Offender Registration Requirements Drive Convicts to Re-Offend?
The reality is that many individuals convicted of sex crimes in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S. find themselves facing a difficult challenge when attempting to reintegrate into the world. The very public nature of sex offender registration means that friends, family members, potential employers, landlords and neighbors are likely to know that the person they are dealing with has a sex crime conviction on their record. Moreover, parents of young children are often wary of anyone who is labeled a “sex offender.” This can put a great deal of pressure on an ex-convict who just wants to move on with their lives, possibly leading them to think that it might be a good idea to move across state borders, hide their criminal record and try to start fresh.
Sex Offenders Who Cross State Lines
On average, 240 NJ sex offenders are convicted each year of failing to adhere to strict registration requirements when it comes to reporting a change in residence within state borders.
When a person convicted of a serious sexual offense tries to cross state lines, the U.S. Marshals service is tasked with tracking them down. In the past 10 years, approximately 500 people have been caught by U.S. Marshals and charged with fleeing their home states in order to avoid sex offender registration requirements. During that same time period, nine people have been prosecuted in New Jersey.
To learn more about how federal and state authorities are trying to enforce Megan’s Law registration requirements, view the NJ.com article, “How Convicted Sex Offenders Fly under the Radar.”
If you or a loved one has been accused of sexual assault, child endangerment or any other sexual offense in New Jersey, it is imperative that you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty will fight your sex crime charges and help you avoid the most severe penalties, which can include prison time and sex offender registration requirements. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.